Lê Đình Quang, deputy director of the Department of Labour Relations from the Việt Nam General Confederation of Labour talks to the newspaper Hải Quan (Customs) on the importance of taking into account of the workers’ health in the up coming revised Labour Code
Are there any differences in the official working hours in Việt Nam compared with other countries?
Compared with other countries, Việt Nam is one of the countries having highest working hours per week in the world. According to a survey conducted by the International Labor Organization (ILO), Việt Nam is among the countries having the longest working hours – 48 hours per week among the 194 countries and territories in the world.
Regarding the annual leave, according to a survey conducted in 155 countries, Việt Nam is among the countries having the least annual leave per year - 12 days.
Regarding the working days in a year, Việt Nam is in the group having the highest working hours in the world. According to a survey on the working hours conducted in 2014, Việt Nam ranks 3rd among the group of nations having the highest working hours internationally with average from 2,339.55 hours per annum- only after Cambodia and Bangladesh.
Among the 11 member countries in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership ((CPTPP), Việt Nam is a country having the highest working hours. Among ASEAN, Việt Nam ranks 2nd after Cambodia.
Regarding the extra working hours, compared with other countries, Việt Nam is at a medium level, yet violations of the extra working hours in Việt Nam is rather common. According to a report from labour inspectors in the textile sector, in 2015, 39.5 per cent of enterprises have failed to comply with the working hours written in the Labor Code. It is reported that quite many Vietnamese workers have to work many extra hours to fulfil their assigned labour norm without extra payment.
Will you please explain a bit further about the proposal on the extra-working hours written in the revised Labor Code?
Under the current law, 12 hours is the top working hours permitted for a worker in a day; no more than 30 hours in a month; and no more than 200 hours in a year. However, in a special circumstance, a worker can work up to 300 hours a year. Yet, during the implementation of the law, many enterprises have complained that such restriction on the working hours has some negative impacts on them, particularly in processing contracts; import-export processing factories. As a result, many enterprises have proposed to get rid of the extra-working hours quotas, particularly for enterprises specialized in import-export processing. Meanwhile, quite many enterprises have proposed the lifting of the working hour cap per week/month while still maintaining the cap on the annual over-time working hours.
I support the idea to increase the working hours, yet the overtime working hours should be paid more than the official working hours. Yet, the decision to ask the workers to work overtime should only be applied in the case of emergency – without planning before.
Do you support the proposal to cut down the official working hours from 48 hours to 44 hours per week?
More recently, prolonged working hours has become an acute problem for many factories’ owners.
Surveys and investigations on the living conditions of Vietnamese workers which were jointly conducted by the Institute for Workers and Trade Unions, under the Việt Nam Trade Union Federation and some other organizations have indicated that the prolonged working hours has some how having negative impacts on the employees/workers and their family members, particularly those who have small children.
Further more, the earning from extra work, for the majority of people, particularly for parents with small children. For most of the Vietnamese workers, the money earned from extra work is just used to compensate for the money they have to pay for their baby sitters after the kindergarten closure and others. That’s why the Việt Nam General Confederation of Labour has come up with a proposal to cut down the working hours from 48 hours/week to 44 hour/week._VNS